The next big payday for personal injury lawyers is here. Why medical malpractice insurance is in for some serious hurt. The evil that is a tracheostomy.

, UK. May 1st, 2018


Personal Injury Lawyers are sharpening their pencils. The reason? That would be the evil that is a tracheostomy.

A tracheostomy is a procedure that involves making an incision in the wind pipe, and inserting a tube with an opening. The procedure itself is not particularly complex. But a myriad of complications typically follow – and in a huge number of cases, it should never have been performed.

Every year in the US, some 150,000 tracheostomies are performed. Patients are often railroaded into consenting to this barbaric, dangerous procedure.

The procedure is painful, is laden with side effects such as infections, bleeding, permanent damage to vocal cords, damage to the oesophagus, and the list goes on. It can also cause death either shortly after, or from one of a number of complications sometime later.

Hospital associated fees can often be upwards of $250,000. Health insurance companies are then on the hook for potentially millions of dollars for admissions to deal with bacterial infections, equipment costs, care costs – the list goes on.

It is the unfortunate patients who bear the highest cost. Quality of life for patients who undergo this procedure is often truly awful. Regular hospital admissions to deal with infections, constant excess production of secretions, significant difficulties speaking, eating, irritation to the trachea (wind pipe) are just some of the realities they face.

Some will have paid the ultimate price. Death.

Whilst some of these patients undoubtedly required a tracheostomy, it is obvious, a significant number did not.

Technologies exist, that for many, could have saved them from this unnecessary evil. Primarily, Non-invasive ventilation whether by Mask (NIPPV), or Hayek’s Biphasic Cuirass Ventilation (BCV) could be used. Often where one doesn’t work, the other will. Where both of these fail, likely a tracheostomy would be justified.

However, unless both methods have been tried, for many, if not the majority, clinical negligence is easily established.

Wolf Hayek, Hayek Medical’s CEO commented “we have saved huge numbers of patients from tracheostomies. It seems most of the time, it is the patients who seek out an alternative. You have to wonder why this is the case. It begs the question, why, when there are over 300 clinical publications advocating for this alternative, and thousands upon thousands of patients treated with this non-invasive alternative, are doctors so adamant for a tracheostomy to be performed – when it might not actually be required. I do think it negligent. Of course it is. I am sure the fees [from a tracheostomy] play a part in that.”

The possible defence for not having tried alternatives that have few if any side effects, is very, very limited. Aside from compensation claims from patients who have not been offered the chance to try both forms of ventilation [NIPPV and Hayek BCV], health insurance companies who have paid for these procedures, and the complication costs that followed have a claim too.

The financial fallout for hospitals and malpractice insurance providers is likely to be absolutely enormous.